Sunday, 15 June 2014 20:09

Yet more BT delays

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British Telecom has been forced to admit that there will be another lengthy delay in providing a fast broadband service to up to 3,000 High Barnet households.

Perhaps of even greater concern is that BT has still made virtually no progress in agreeing suitable sites for the installation of the necessary additional kerbside telephone cabinets and that a further three potential cabinets are “not commercially viable”.

After a meeting attended by company representatives, Mrs Theresa Villiers MP and a delegation from the Barnet Society, BT has conceded that its previous target of being able to offer additional high-speed connections in High Barnet has now slipped from the spring to the end of September at the earliest.

So far a site has been agreed for only one additional cabinet – at Hadley Highstone – which BT say is “planned to go live by the end of the year”.

But no agreement has been reached on sites for the additional cabinets that are required if fast broadband is to reach homes in side streets in and around the centre of High Barnet.

BT is still blaming Barnet Council for the failure to find suitable locations for additional cabinet at six sites:

  • Wood Street, opposite the Black Horse public house
  • Wood Street, outside the entrance to Old Court House recreation ground
  • High Street, near Hadley Parade
  • Salisbury Road, near the junction with Stapylton Road
  • Manor Road, near the junction with Cedar Lawn Avenue
  • Bells Hill, near the junction with Wood Street

BT’s latest statement has ominous news for some homes off the High Street and St Albans Road. It says upgrades are no longer considered viable for two locations:

  • Bruce Road, near the junction with St Albans Road (two cabinets)
  • Salisbury Road, near the junction with High Street

BT said the installation of the Hadley Highstone broadband cabinet is going ahead because there had been “productive discussions” with Barnet Council which had allowed it to be reintroduced to the upgrade programme.

But BT had been unable so far to find a suitable location for the other six cabinets that had been included in the original upgrade.  

Around half the additional cabinets needed for High Barnet were installed about three years ago and there is fast broadband in some streets but the rest were never fitted and BT has blamed Barnet Council for refusing planning permission because some of the proposed locations were within conservation areas.

However BT has been granted a two-year window when planning approval is no longer required and Barnet Council has insisted for some months that it has lifted previous objections to possible sites.

Mrs Villiers told the Barnet Society she was concerned about the lack of certainty about the high-speed upgrade and would continue to monitor the situation.

Unless there is a breakthrough in negotiations between BT and Barnet Council in the next few months there seems to be the very real possibility that High Barnet could end up with no additional cabinets being installed in and around the town centre.

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